Locals Weigh In on Aleutian Climate Trends

Monday, September 29 2014

Study facilitator Chris Beck looks over audience members' votes on what kind of seasonality changes they're seeing in Unalaska. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)

Scientists know that the climate in the Aleutian Islands is changing. But they’re making observations from a distance -- while on the ground, the story is sometimes very different.

That’s what a team of researchers found earlier this month in Unalaska, when they talked to locals about the climate change they’re seeing in their own back yards.

About 40 people packed into Unalaska’s Museum of the Aleutians to answer a simple question: What abnormal changes have they seen in their local environment?

Federal Grants Boost Services at Aleutian-Pribilof Clinics

Monday, September 29 2014

Community health centers in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands will get at least $600,000 in federal grant money for new services this year.

The grants are aimed in part at helping new patients who enrolled in health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

But there aren’t many of those in the Aleutian Islands. Instead, providers will use the money for the patients they already have.

Aleutian Towns Struggle to Retain Safety Officers

Monday, September 29 2014

Two Aleutian communities are going without local law enforcement after their village public safety officers resigned.

Akutan's officer has stepped down for personal reasons. And False Pass lost its VPSO two months ago, when the officer decided to move closer to his family on the East Coast.

Both of those officers were employed by the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, or APIA. They get funding from the state of Alaska to put officers in five communities.

Preservation Board Supports Torpedo Demolition

Friday, September 26 2014

The airport long-term parking lot is littered with debris after a windstorm. (Courtesy: FAA)

Unalaska’s historic preservation commission met for the first time in six years to weigh in on a landmark in disrepair.

On Thursday, the commission -- now made up of planning board members and city staff -- voted in favor of a plan to demolish the torpedo storage facility near the airport.

Technically, it’s part of the National Historic Landmark at Fort Mears. But as the World War II-era building sheds debris, it's also gotten a reputation as a public hazard.

Robinson Seeks to Expand Housing Market

Thursday, September 25 2014

(Courtesy: Dennis Robinson)

Dennis Robinson’s four terms on city council span four decades. He’s seen a lot of transformation in that time – first, the growth of the fishing industry, and now, shipping and oil.

Through it all, Robinson says one concern has risen to the top: 

"The housing issue will make or break our ability to capitalize to our fullest on these new developments," he says, "because without the housing, we won’t have the workers to handle the work required to support new opportunities."

Leclere Looks to Be Community Voice on Council

Thursday, September 25 2014

(Courtesy: Yudelka Leclere)

Yudelka Leclere knows that community turnout tends to be low at city council meetings.

And that’s part of why she’s running for a council seat – she sees herself as a community member stepping up to be a bigger part of the process.

"I don’t see a whole lot of us community members attending, speaking yea or nay," Leclere says. "Maybe it’s time for me to take it up a little higher and be that advocate."

Johnson Aims for Stable Community Growth

Wednesday, September 24 2014

(Credit: Pipa Escalante)

For Zoya Johnson, being part of city council comes down to a simple goal: "My first priority will always be the quality of life in this community," she says.

Since she’s running unopposed for her second full term, Johnson’s already looking ahead to the city’s to-do list for the next three years. And she says the biggest variable is Arctic oil and shipping development.

If new industries do arrive in Unalaska, Johnson says she wants to be prepared to make sure the community doesn’t suffer.

Unalaska Hosts National Oil Spill Response Drill

Wednesday, September 24 2014

The Coast Guard and other agencies coordinate hypothetical clean-up efforts at the Grand Aleutian Hotel Wednesday. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)

Coast Guard crews and local stakeholders are playing out a major hypothetical disaster in Unalaska this week. It’s part of a federal oil spill response drill that’s taking place in the Aleutians for the first time.

The drilll is based on a worst-case scenario: a 500,000-gallon oil spill in the waters around the island, after a hypothetical landslide above North Pacific Fuel’s tank farm near Mt. Ballyhoo.

Barrera Seeks a Sure Path to Academic Success

Wednesday, September 24 2014

When Fernando Barrera won his election last fall for an open seat on the Unalaska school board, he had a clear vision for the one-year term that lay ahead of him.

Barrera wanted to improve STEM education -- science, technology, engineering and math. But he says he had some misconceptions about how to get there from his position on the board.

"We can propose things, but you don’t decide as a person what to do," he says. "It’s a team."

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